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A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology by Vincent F. Hendricks, Stig Andur Pedersen, Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen Friis

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Chapter 31

Hermeneutics and Technologies

DON IHDE

At first glance, it might appear that hermeneutics as a theory of interpretation, and technologies as the array of artifacts used by humans, might not be easily related. However, in so far as all technologies as used by humans are ascribed with ranges of often complex meanings, so also are texts, so that at a deeper level hermeneutics and technologies potentially exhibit considerable interrelations a few of which will be explored here.

Hermeneutics is also usually thought of as pertaining to linguistic phenomena, and most primarily to written or textual interpretation. Clearly, in the pre-modern European traditions, hermeneutics was most focally practiced with respect to sacred texts, particularly biblical ones. However, with the spread of modernist thought and with beginnings largely in the eighteenth century and the subsequent rise of “biblical criticism,” or the question of interpretation which questioned the historical origins and formations of biblical texts, the notions of a critical intepretation began to expand into a broader critical theory. By the nineteenth century the main currents of scholarly thinking began to differentiate disciplines into more distinct practices with the methods and aims of the natural sciences – previously “natural philosophy” – and the human sciences into two distinguishable styles of thinking. The most famous and longest-lasting set of distinctions remains associated with Wilhelm Dilthey and his ...

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